WEST JEFFERSON — When Jeff Fissel replaced Jane Lonon as executive director of the Ashe County Arts Council July 1, he knew there would be quite a bit of on-the-job learning. Fissel said the first few weeks of his tenure have been all about meeting people in Ashe County and its arts community and getting to know the various aspects of the job.
“I need to pick it up, run with it and make sure nothing gets dropped,” Fissel said. “Lots to learn, lot to take in, lot of people to meet and so I’m just trying to schedule meetings with folks and get on calendars.”
Fissel said he recently drove around the county alongside people involved with the Blue Ridge Brutal bike race to get to know the routes, and is working to get to know the different galleries around West Jefferson. All of this is a change for someone with no background with an arts council or artistic organization, but Fissel said he’s already grabbing the bull by the horns.
“I think you have to, there’s stuff happening whether you want it to or not,” Fissel said. “Not everything is going to wait for you to figure it out, it’s coming regardless. It’s just reading all of Jane’s files, going to committee meetings, seeing what I can do to lend a hand and keep it going.”
Fissel said something that has made the transition easier is Ashe County itself. He said the warm reception he’s received from people in various positions around the county has helped him settle in and feel more comfortable in his new role.
“Everyone’s just been as nice as can be,” Fissel said. “I’m super impressed, everyone seems very cohesive and supporting each other and I think that’s awesome. It’s a great culture and a great community.”